Horse racing fans will be hoping that it is second time lucky for a star-studded card of action at Naas on Friday following the postponement of the card last Sunday.

The standout action comes in the form of the G1 Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle, which could present clues for both the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. But, which runner looks primed to land the spoils in the Grade One contest this week?


Race History & Records

The Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle was previously known as the Slaney Novice Hurdle, and it has been staged annually in January at Naas Racecourse since 1983. It became a Grade Two contest in 2005, before it was upgraded to a Grade One ten years later. A total distance of two miles and four furlongs is covered by the field, with eleven flights of hurdles jumped by the field.

A number of notable winners have won the race throughout history, including Golden Cygnet who landed victory in 1978 before landing the Supreme. Bob Olinger also won the race in 2021 before later landing the Ballymore. Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in the history of the race with eight victories.


Joint favorites are likely for the race this weekend, with Firefox for trainer Gordon Elliott among those competing at the top of the betting. The six-year-old has been excellent over hurdles this season, winning on his latest start by a commanding two-length margin from the hugely progressive Ballyburn.

Elliott’s runners continue to be running at a very high standard, with the multiple-time Grand National-winning trainer currently operating at 16%. However, Firefox will certainly be tested this weekend, as he steps up in trip for the first time since finishing fourth in a bumper at Navan in November 2022.

Ile Atlantique

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend join forces in the race this weekend with the incredibly progressive Ile Atlantique. Based on the market moves this weekend, it is widely expected that this six-year-old will be the stable’s main contender in the Ballymore at the Festival in March, meaning that a strong showing is likely over two miles and four on Friday.

He was beaten in a bumper by Firefox in early April at Fairyhouse, but he returned to form with a stunning effort on debut over hurdles to beat Diamboy Des Carres by 19 lengths. Up in trip this weekend, but the distance isn’t as much of an issue with this contender as he is bred to stay.

An Tobar

There’s little doubt that An Tobar could present the value in the betting this week for the team of Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. The seven-year-old is the highest-rated runner in this field, and has been kept in very high company throughout his career. After winning on his only point-to-point start, he made a winning debut over hurdles at Fairyhouse in November, beating Champagne Admiral by over four lengths.

He could only finish third in the G1 Royal Bond on his previous start, but that form reads incredibly strong after Farren Glory’s performance in the G1 Tolworth when he looked like the winner from a long way out before falling.

Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle Prediction

In truth, the An Tobar price for this feature is a bit of a shock. The seven-year-old is clear on ratings, and was only beaten a couple of lengths by a very progressive contender in Grade One company on his previous start. He looks the most appealing play for the team of De Bromhead and Blackmore, who won this with Bob Olinger in 2021.

Pick: An Tobar